Since the spirit of spreading ‘friendly-fire’ is upon us I thought I’d chip in with a thought or two of my own. Driscoll’s ‘skewering’ of Sydney got me thinking about his ministry and similar ministries from other missional-minded reformed peeps coming out of the States.
But first some disclaimers: First off, although I never heard Driscoll’s talk itself Gordon’s notes gave me a fair idea of where he went and what his criticisms were. As I’ve already stated I resonated with many of them as one who understands something of the Sydney paradigm of ministry. I also thought one or two of his points were probably wide of the mark or perhaps failed to understand the Sydney Anglican context well enough. All and all I greatly value his critique and hope that people will give it some serious thought.
What I was left wondering however, was what has Driscoll learned from ministry in Sydney? I hope he posts some reflections on his time there and what he has learned – but I thought that, until he does, I’ll mention something that I think he (and others like him) could benefit from in the Sydney paradigm of ministry.
I’ve been listening to his podcasts and podcasts from other Acts29 church planters for two or three years now. I’ve listened to some of their Sunday preaching and I’ve listened to their conference talks. I’ve been greatly encouraged and built up in the gospel through these talks and I’m going to keep on downloading them and enjoying them. What I have found a little concerning is the quality of bible handling on occasion. I’ve often struggled with the way narrative passages tend to get a bit spiritualized and moralized where it looks like hard work hasn’t been done on the text. Its clear that hard work has been done on the whole sermon but I sometimes wonder about the work on the text.
In this light I think Sydney ought to be applauded. Their commitment to hard work on the text, to text driven and directed preaching, is of the first order. Preachers like Phillip Jensen, John Woodhouse, John Chapman, Simon Manchester and others have provided me with great models of exposition in the past. Yes, I think Driscoll is right when he says that their (Sydney peeps in general) preaching is sometimes weak on application – I feel that too – but I don’t want to have to be in a situation where I pick one or the other, I want both. I think God calls us to both. So to Mark and the reformed missional crew I think you could learn something from Sydney here that would only make your ministries even stronger and more faithful.